9. Publication and Presentation

9.1 Publication Strategy

The extent and nature of this project is such that it deserves detailed publication and it is proposed that the cornerstone of the publication programme should be three related monographs presenting a coherent synthesis (Volume I), detailed summary information on the structures and assemblages (Volume II), and key material, cultural and environmental reports (Volume III) (see below for details).

West Heslerton will probably form a 'type site' for Early Anglo-Saxon settlement studies and thus a series of themes must be addressed in order that the maximum information is communicated. The quantity and quality of data retrieved during the course of the project makes it essential that the data are adequately disseminated. It is unlikely that this could be achieved through conventional mechanisms, not least because the strength of much of the material lies in the ability to manipulate the large quantities of spatially referenced material and it is essential that researchers have access to it in a digital form. Fortunately, as the overall management of the project has focused upon the use of a digital multi-media database, new electronic approaches for data and report distribution will be both cheap and effective. The aim, therefore, is to produce sufficient contextual information in the main monograph, published conventionally, to satisfy most researchers while highlighting the potential, character and complexity of the data-set, which would be disseminated digitally.

The publication strategy proposed combines a number of different approaches designed to:

The details of each proposed publication are provided below. In summary, they are:

A number of other possible publications are also considered below, but these have not been resourced within the current proposal:

9.2 Publication Synopses

9.2.1 Synthetic report

The main synthetic report will comprise three related monographs: a coherent synthesis, drawing upon all the specialist analysis, and prepared along thematic and temporal lines (Volume I); detailed summary information on the structures and assemblages (Volume II); and key material culture and environmental reports (Volume III). It is proposed that a 'Site Atlas' will support the monographs. The report will also include sections on excavation methodology, sampling strategy and data management.

Volume I

It is proposed that the monograph be prepared along thematic and temporal lines and that it be supported by a 'Site Atlas' comprising 110 A3 plans at a scale of 1:100 and an index to the full dataset. Realistically the 'Site Atlas' might best be distributed on a CD-ROM as it will encourage readers to use and test the data and represent a considerable reduction in cost for the publication as a whole; this aspect will reviewed prior to the production phase. The report should include sections on excavation and data management methodology, in addition to archaeological interpretation and direct reference to archive data and the site atlas. It is anticipated that the monograph will be produced in two volumes; the discussion and synthesis which will draw upon all the specialist analysis and form a single seamless narrative, and the structural and specialist catalogue which will comprise the structural catalogue supported by assemblage evidence and integrated specialist reports.



Chapter details

Context of the project

The context of the project in both local and national settings should be discussed at the outset to address the framework within which the work was undertaken and the issues that the analysis has addressed. These include local and national parallels, the nature of Early Anglo-Saxon settlement in general, and the principal changes in understanding arising out of this project. Maps, charts and illustrations, some of which may need to be in more than one colour, should support this section.

The Excavation

The excavation sequence and methodology deserve discussion in some detail since the project has seen the successful application of many innovative techniques. This section should discuss both the successes and any failures in the approaches adopted and should cover the analytical as well as excavation processes. The evolution of the project and the responses required to recover sufficient data at different stages may contain important lessons for others in the field. The whole question of sampling approaches should be discussed in some detail, with results of the proposed sampling testing work planned as part of the analytical programme. The relatively complete coverage of the whole site provides a wonderful opportunity to perform and validate sampling methodologies using the excavated data-set. This section would require heavy illustration, including half-tones, graphs, plans and charts.

The results

The layout and presentation of the results should be cast within a temporal framework that encompasses the principal periods, Prehistoric, Roman and Anglo-Saxon, but also should not de-emphasise the importance of the transitional phases where questions of continuity are so important. Where key issues such as continuity are addressed then different aspects of continuity such as continuity of landscape, structural or population should be discussed both collectively and independently.


This would contain a short summary of the prehistoric journal article (see below) to provide context and background for landscape development.


Landscape background

The context of the Roman activity at the site seems somewhat unusual, and, although we only have a very limited amount of other excavated Roman contexts in the immediate area, these, in association with a very extensive survey programme, can provide a fairly detailed picture of the late Iron Age and Roman landscapes as best demonstrated through a series of 'ladder' settlements along the edges of the Vale of Pickering. The relationship between this landscape and the needs of the military installations at York, Malton and later at Scarborough and Bridlington should be discussed, even if the hard evidence is limited. The ceramic analysis is of particular relevance in this area since it will provide us with an opportunity to compare the assemblages here, which are both rural and possibly ritual in nature, with those from the major regional urban sites, such as York in particular.


The examination of what appears to be a major late Roman ritual complex needs to be addressed both from the social and economic standpoints. In order for this to be undertaken, we must establish a very clear picture of the site development sequence and the ceramic assemblages which point towards continuity. The immense amount of work associated with the construction of the late '?shrine' and associated terracing of the valley at the southern end of the site is of particular importance. The nature of the data is such that we will need to undertake some hypothetical 3D landscape reconstruction and examine the way in which the different aspects of the late Roman activity blend together.

Domestic settlement and economy

The level of domestic settlement remains unclear without much more detailed analysis. However, the initial layout of some of the enclosures in the southern part of the site appears to be of Late Roman date and therefore we need to discuss their role both in relation to the evidence for ritual and domestic land-use.

The Roman to Saxon transition

The fundamental importance of the evidence or otherwise for continuity is such that this issue deserves a separate section in its own right. If, as it appears at present, we do indeed have continuity of use of the ritual space associated with the 'shrines' to the south of the Anglo-Saxon settlement proper, then this is of crucial importance. The arguments for and against will require careful presentation and discussion, bringing together both the stratigraphic, material culture and inferred sequences to provide a rounded view.


Development sequence

The difficulty in providing clear phasing of sites of this class without detailed integrated material culture and environmental assemblage analysis are appreciated by all concerned in the study of this period. This part of the narrative needs to have the methodologies applied and the results of the phasing process to be clearly articulated with supporting plans and assemblage groups.

This section will address key issues of sequence, including the transition from Early to Middle Saxon and desertion of the site towards the end of the Middle-Saxon period.

It is proposed to handle the evidence of planning under a separate heading. However, this section should make reference to this and also discuss in detail what appears to be a contraction of the active settlement zone in the Middle-Saxon period.

The evidence for planned settlement

The functional and associated spatial variation, which has been such a surprising aspect of the site, requires detailed discussion in general terms before the structural evidence is catalogued in detail. This will require the inclusion of many plans, distribution plots and geographic charts. This chapter will require careful cross-referencing to the chapters on national and international context.

Property divisions and structural synthesis

With well over 200 Anglo-Saxon structures, West Heslerton now includes the largest body of such evidence recovered from a single site. The number of Grubenhäuser, whilst still considerably fewer than at Mucking, are matched by a large number of substantial post-hole structures. It has already been observed in the assessment that preliminary comparative analysis with other structures nationally confirms the presence of a well-developed architectural tradition with a relatively limited range of structural types. Further analysis indicates that the use of tie-beam construction may have restricted the size of the Early Anglo-Saxon structures.

This section, which will make up a major part of the volume, will discuss in detail some individual structures, groups and enclosures as well as the architectural range. The architectural tradition will be discussed with reference to its position within the British and continental contexts, aspects of construction, function and the resources used. Aspects such as structural longevity need to be addressed as well as form and function. Structures will need to be discussed individually as well as in groups and related to the enclosure complex in the southern half of the site. Re-use and structural sequence will likewise be important issues in attempting to define temporal changes, particularly from the Early to Middle-Saxon phases. The Grubenhäuser will be discussed in full, covering form and function as well as temporal change, re-use and dating.

Material culture, dating and environmental issues will be covered in Volume II through the presentation of the results of the assemblage analysis in relation to each structure. This section will require careful cross-referencing to other parts of this volume, the supporting volumes and to the Site Atlas but will still require extensive illustration both of the excavated details as well as reconstruction drawings. Ground-plans, profiles and sections, charts and graphs be required to fully support the discussion.

Craft and industry

Craft and industry are well represented in the material and structural records. This section will cover the structural remains, the technologies employed and the context of the activity both within the site and as part of the broader Anglo-Saxon community. Metal-working, malting and bread-making are all demonstrated through both structures and associated materials. Textile production is evidenced by worked bone tools, and loom-weights as well as through the faunal and environmental data. A number of tools and the sophisticated construction techniques used in the post-hole buildings demonstrate the activity of woodworkers. This section will examine the activity and role of the different craft/industrial activities within the broader framework of the development of the site. It will require a number of illustrations and reconstruction drawings.

Agriculture and environment

The evidence recovered provides a magnificent opportunity to examine aspects of Early Anglo-Saxon agriculture and the environment. This section will draw upon the plant macrofossil, soils and faunal evidence to study site context, intra-site environmental variation, animal husbandry, crop management and processing, hunting, food and diet. It is important in establishing the way of life and also has a bearing on trade, economy, craft and industry, as well as contextual reconstruction. The assemblages from the Grubenhäuser and the widespread midden deposits can potentially provide two different pictures of life on the site. The deliberate and single event nature of the bulk of the Grubenhäuser fills provides a series of major assemblages recovered from different environmental and settlement zones contrasting with the open area spreads which represent a more cumulative build up. The volume of data is such that we can examine spatial variation in considerable detail; the presence of a large number of articulated animal skeletons and the frequently good condition of much of the well-sealed animal bone will enable us to discuss a variety of issues relating to change over time, agricultural role of stock, the relative importance of hunting and temporal variation in diet. The plant macrofossil evidence will form the basis for a discussion of the arable environment as well as aspects relating to more domestic issues such as, if possible, the collection and use of herbs. The charcoal evidence will allow us to discuss the evidence for orchards and woodland management. This section will be accompanied by a number of spatial distribution plots, trend surface plots, charts and environmental reconstruction charts.

Trade and economy

Regardless of whether the site is in the end viewed as a village or proto-town, the sheer number of structures and their layout, and the evidence for trade and economy require detailed discussion. This section, which also relates to those on craft/industry and agriculture, will present the evidence for local and long-distance trade and economic reconstruction. It will discuss in detail the evidence for trade in ceramics, and the textile industry. It will examine the roles of trade and economy as part of a possible failed urban initiative in the Early Anglo-Saxon period. It will require the preparation of a small number of maps and charts.

National and international context

As the only fully excavated Early Anglo-Saxon settlement in the north of England, together with its associated cemetery also extensively excavated, as well as being the only site of this class extensively excavated and documented using modern techniques, its role as a 'type-site' is guaranteed. It is essential that the evidence from West Heslerton be compared and contrasted with that from sites elsewhere in Britain, particularly in the light of the evidence for functionally distinctive zones in the Early Anglo-Saxon period. This will require a high level of illustration of primary data from West Heslerton as well as that gleaned from other reports and archives.

The evidence for continuity from the settlement and the evidence for native and non-native derived from the cemetery require some discussion of the continental evidence. Clearly this is a subject that deserves more detailed study than can be undertaken in the present analytical programme. However, aspects of settlement morphology need to be addressed in order to identify those characteristics which are Anglo-Saxon as opposed to Saxon in general. The continental links implied from the highly portable items such as the metalwork need to be set against the wider issues of north European context.


This will comprise a short chapter, discussing the introduction of rig and furrow, and the related preservation of deposits beneath a headland and evolution of the modern landscape.



Summaries in French and German

Given the continental importance of the site, short (c.2-3 pages) German and French summaries should be prepared.

The Site Atlas

The production and distribution of the 'Site Atlas' will require more careful consideration prior to the production phase.

If the Site Atlas were produced on CD-ROM this would ensure a considerable savings in cost and also, since this will include software to display and manipulate the data, would enable the reader to work interactively with the primary data and photographic record. CD-ROM technology is stable and easily accessible and will provide us with a means of making a great deal more detailed data and visual records available than would otherwise be possible. Included software tools would provide facilities for viewing the data in a number if different ways in addition to providing a basic mechanism for data extraction, which should encourage further research.

Volume II

This volume will present a reasonably detailed summary of all the buildings and major features (fences, enclosures, pit groups, etc.) on the site. Each of these will be presented with:

Illustrations - each structure/enclosure will require a minimum of half a page illustration (1:100)


Volume III

The thematic and synthetic Volume I will enable many of the principal conclusions from the specialists' studies to be integrated and presented at appropriate points. However, the thematic nature of Volume I may not provide an appropriate mechanism for presenting information in sufficient detail, and thus more detailed specialist reports will be presented here (as is the case with the structural information, which is presented in Volume II).

The main criteria will be:

Likely structure includes:


9.2.2 Prehistoric landscape

Prehistoric journal article

Landscape development and land-use:

There is good evidence from the soil micromorphology of landscape change during the later prehistoric period. This should be discussed against the evidence for land-use demonstrated by the lithic scatters and prehistoric ceramics, both of which fall off in density towards the southern end of the site. Additional features, in particular a series of Late Neolithic pits and a small group of Middle Bronze Age round-houses towards the northern limit of the excavated area constitute important additions to data recovered from previous fieldwork.

This article will draw upon evidence from the current site, as well as previous work, to give a more rounded view of the development and land-use sequence for the locale during the later prehistoric period; in addition, the article should identify areas where there is either an absence or insufficiency of data to assist in the definition of future research and rescue priorities in the region.

Burial and ritual:

This section should cover the two small cremation cemeteries, and a number of isolated inhumations and evidence for an 'unfinished' long-barrow and associated disarticulated human remains. In addition, the article should address the wider issue of Barrow construction, type and date within the project area. By bringing together all the evidence recovered both through excavation and survey, the article will present a synthetic analysis of the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze age activity in the area.

9.2.3 Interim publication

It is proposed to disseminate the main body of the assessment document (without personal or financial information) through Internet Archaeology. This will require only limited project resources to cover editing, as the text and figures are already available digitally and the process of hyper-linking the text and preparing the documents for the Web will be undertaken by staff of Internet Archaeology.

The assessment contains a useful summary of the project thus far, and will provide an important interim statement on the project in advance of the final publication. It is hoped that an edited version of the assessment should be prepared for submission to Internet Archaeology by January 1997.

9.2.4 Digital data and electronic dissemination

There are two principal means of disseminating digital data: CD-ROM and the Internet. Both have their merits and a combination of these two tools is most likely to serve the needs of the project. Many of the specialist aspects of the work, whilst contributing fundamental evidence for the interpretation of the site, involve new approaches to analysis and interpretation which deserve publication though different channels. The high quality of the spatial record provides an important opportunity to test and review aspects of our working practices, such as sampling strategies or GIS applications.

The aim is to provide:

The aim of distributing digital data is far greater than simply a cheap form of publication. The aim is to enable the user to actually manipulate data, without time-consuming or costly re-entry of information. Hypotheses can be tested and new spatial associations examined. In this context, what is being proposed is very different from multimedia publication: there is no major cost centre for the production, the aim is not to produce an interactive digital publication, but to make available digital data to be reworked in the researchers' own packages.

By the time that the analysis programme is complete High Density CD-ROMs will be very widely available, providing an opportunity to publish the entire database, texts and large numbers of photographs and video footage in a form that is both cross-referenced and accompanied by the necessary software for other researchers to extract both database attributes and graphical components. All data will be stored using portable structures such as dBase files and DXF drawing exchange files, formats that will remain as standards for the foreseeable future, and in any case can be easily read as ASCII text. Clearly there are a multitude of research questions which may arise during and after our analysis is complete which cannot be addressed as part of the work programme. By providing the full dataset in a digital format it is hoped that other researchers will be encouraged to use the data and move the analytical process forward.

This approach to publication may appear radical and to some extent experimental. However, the pace with which use of the Internet both in academic and in broader circles is expanding cannot be underestimated. With CD-ROM drives in almost every computer now sold we can, effectively for the first time, publish full supporting data in a format ready for data extraction. The very rapid rate of Internet expansion, and evolving new communications systems and software (such as the Java programming language), which can provide a mechanism for provision of basic data interactivity and GIS functionality across the Net, offer tremendous opportunities for innovative and effective publication during the life of the project, which need to be considered at an early stage if we are to use this potential to its best effect. By using the Internet as a publication vehicle during the life of the project we can potentially benefit from external feedback in a way that is not possible using a conventional approach. We have only very limited access to continental work in particular, but could easily benefit from an exchange of data and ideas that would be readily possible across the Net.

9.3 Other Possible Publications (not resourced in this proposal)

9.3.1 Popular volume

Originally, the project was selected for inclusion in the EH Batsford series of popular books. This series has now been discontinued, but the wider relevance of the excavations, in particular the unusual insight into the nature of an early Anglo-Saxon community, lends itself to such a presentation. There would be considerable economies of scale (the reconstruction drawings, photographic record, etc.), all of which would lend themselves to a popular volume. The costs of preparing such a volume have not been included here but, as the project progresses, opportunities will be sought to enable such a volume to be produced.

9.3.2 Specialist and thematic papers

Specialist reports, thematic papers and interim statements may merit publication during the course of the excavation. Contributors will be encouraged to disseminate information and some papers may be distributed on the Internet.

9.3.3 Educational material

Educational materials will be discussed with English Heritage Education Service. If proposals are accepted, educational material will be prepared with reference to the National Curriculum, covering aspects such as the way of life, economy and environment.

9.3.4 Methodological volume

The field methodology employed at West Heslerton, has been substantially vindicated by the results achieved; 'novel' aspects such as the application of hand-held computers have made the production of this volume in as short a time as possible. Other techniques, such as the use of EDMs and Total stations, have been widely adopted. However, the process of building large and integrated data-sets is complex and requires considerable planning. This volume would document the reasoning behind the methods adopted, give a detailed discussion of the methodologies employed in gathering and integrating the data and discuss the analytical edge that such methodologies can provide. In addition it would document the mistakes and the pitfalls in some of the ideas and methods and discuss aspects of varying suitability of particular techniques and approaches to different deposits and environments. This volume has not been resourced within the present work programme. A suggested completion date would be at the half-way stage of the analytical process, 1998/9, where the benefits or otherwise of particular approaches in the field should be fully appreciated.


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Last updated: Tue Dec 15 1998